After 18 years, World of Warcraft is finally relaxing its deep and storied factional divide between Alliance and Horde players, and finally allowing them to play together.
like blizzardannounced todayAn update is currently in the works that will allow Alliance and Horde players to party up for dungeons, raids, and ranked PvP. While not yet available, the change is planned to be released as part of an eventual 9.2.5 update sometime after the next major patch, Eternity's End.
Change is, by necessity, somewhat limited in its scope. Must be. World of Warcraft has always followed its Warcraft heritage by dividing the Alliance and Horde into warring factions; in fact, most of the game is based on this division. Historically, he's looked for stories that pit the two groups against each other in PvP, and separate the groups entirely for social structures like guilds, parties, and even in-world communication. One of its more recent expansions, Battle for Azeroth, explicitly focused on this factional conflict, though its resolution ended in a tenuous truce.
So for now, Blizzard is keeping things simple... well, relatively. Players will be able to directly invite members of opposing factions to groups if they are already friends via BattleTag or RealID, or if they are members of an existing cross faction community. By creating pre-made groups in the Group Finder tool, they can open apps for members of both factions or just their own faction. They will be able to communicate via group chat while in a party and trade items, fight together, and earn achievements while inside the instances.
Meanwhile, guilds and all random matchmaking activities will remain the same faction, and players will still be hostile or hostile in the world, even if in a party together. Some instances with explicit faction split components will also not work with cross faction groups, at least initially, such as Battle of Dazar'alor, Trial of the Crusader, and Icecrown Citadel, although these may be changed in the future.
Faction play is something the World of Warcraft community has been asking about for years. But when I asked game director Ion Hazzikostas "Why now?" he quipped "Why not?" before explaining that this change was actually part of a larger reexamination of the fundamentals of World of Warcraft, a process that Blizzard began in patch 9.1.5.
"[We've] been looking at things that we've said 'no' to and that people in the community have asked for... And one of them has been the desire to play cross-faction."
"Part of the blog we put out that laid the groundwork for that was about looking at the assumptions we made about how character progression should work, about player vs. account and all that other stuff. And really going through the things that we said 'no' to which people in the community have asked... And one of them has been the desire to play cross faction in some way... The answer has always been good, it's Warcraft, it's orcs against humans, it's Horde against Alliance It's what defines all of our intellectual property."
Hazzikostas begins to compare it to Star Wars, suggesting that in a Star Wars game, you wouldn't let the Jedi and Sith cooperate. But he later corrects him, saying that the example is quite different.
"Jedi and Sith and this universe are ideologies, they are choices," he continues. "One chooses to walk the path of light or go to the dark side... You are born Alliance, you are born Horde. This is not a choice you make. This is something assigned to you and this fated destiny is not necessarily something we necessarily want." defend, the idea that your luck in the world because you were born an elf, you must hate trolls and nothing can change that, and because you were born a troll, you are their eternal enemy.
"This isn't the world we want to build, but it's also not the world we've actually built or the story we've told for the past 20 years and since Warcraft 3. At the end of the day, this was about factions coming together to defeat Archimonde and stop the major threats to our world."
Another big reason why a change is happening now is because of how communication outside of World of Warcraft has changed over the years. 17 years ago, Hazzikostas says, people found their friends and communities online through games, and therefore through their factions. But more and more over the years, this has changed radically.
"It was just one of those accepted rules back then, if you find a friend and find out they're playing on different servers, well, you're never going to play with your friend. That's what WoW is like considering those limits." more and more and tons of communities have formed and there are Discords and WoW communities and people who are friends on Twitter and other places, the downside of keeping such a hard line grows with each passing year.
"Frankly, we probably hit the tipping point not too long ago. But in a game like this, we're stubborn and traditionalists and it's scary to say, let's eradicate this fundamental pillar of what the game has been for over a decade." . But it's time."
Hazzikostas wants to emphasize that, at least for now, Blizzard isn't ready to go to extremes like wiping out factions entirely and letting a bunch of humans into Orgrimmar. This would undermine the shared reality of Azeroth. But by keeping it focused on cooperative play, it allows players to set their own boundaries for faction identity, while also allowing them to conveniently play with friends who are with the opposing faction.
"It's scary to say: let's eradicate this fundamental pillar of what the game has been for over a decade."
That said, another reason they're keeping the change in scope for now is because it's a technically huge undertaking, tackling systems like how quest credits are shared to trade items and simple player-to-player communication.
"At a fundamental level, the code was written to assume, well, that a group has a faction and that group's faction is either the Horde or the Alliance," says Hazzikostas. "There's a lot of things in the game that reference that. So it's been a great collaborative venture between our game engineers, our UI, and our content and system designers. And part of that are also assumptions. in different instances about the party be it one faction or another. We're working to relax and vouch for the vast majority of them - some of them are beyond the scope of what we can really deliver in legacy content like Battle for Dazar'alor We want to get there one day. We want to be able to support you so you can do your transmog runs with your friend."
Hazzikostas says that there probably won't be an acknowledgment in the game changer story, as the factions are already in an armistice. But he thinks they're unlikely to make an "all-consuming faction conflict expansion" like Battle for Azeroth. He thinks they're more likely to focus on a wide range of perspectives on the division across characters and missions, such as the survivors of the Teldrassil fire, Genn Greymane, members of the Forsaken, and everyone else, all while allowing the Players decide for themselves where they are in relation to the opposing faction.
'Right now I know I shouldn't close any doors.'
Of course, none of that is stopping Blizzard from finally moving things forward. While Hazzikostas suspects that they will have no technical or ideological reason to implement the change in World of Warcraft: Classic, he is open to hearing feedback from the community and reconsidering if they wish. And he acknowledges that they may want to consider other elements for the retail version, like cross-factional guilds. But they are being careful about how they move forward.
"At this point, I know not to close any doors," says Hazzikostas. "This is a one-way process... We're not going to loosen the rules, allow social bonds to form or communities to grow, and then suddenly step back and say, never mind, that was a mistake... Technical considerations aside, something like playing outdoors would be a huge undertaking due to how all of our missions are built.Those considerations aside, we want to be conservative here, but let's listen to our community, guided by the results of how this works. experiment and still trying to preserve the identity of the Alliance and the Horde, but in a way that is harmonious with the way the game is playing and how our players feel in 2022 and beyond."
Since Hazzikostas had described faction warfare as a "fundamental pillar" of World of Warcraft, I asked him what, then, are the fundamental pillars of World of Warcraft with this boot.
"It's easy to assume for short that the core idea is Horde vs. Alliance. I think if you like Warcraft 1 or Warcraft 2 again, well then yeah, that was literally the case because it was just a two-player RTS game. factions where the story was created as a device to explain why these factions fight each other.
"But really, from Warcraft 3 onward, I think the ideals of Warcraft have been adventure, exploration, but also the fact that we actually have more in common than what separates us. That the Alliance and the Horde are standing up for their homes, looking for homes". , fighting for family, for honor, for justice".
Rebekah Valentine is a reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter@patovalentine.